Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Games people play.

It was a day like any other day at work. Everyone was busy as usual... fighting dragons, building new battleships, polishing the existing ones, forging alliances, at times sailing through murky waters, and planning for the road ahead. We were at our lunch break when the captain entered and saw four of us, Mayank, Sandeep, Himanshu and myself. He told us to meet him after lunch.

So there we were in the captain's cabin wondering why he had called for this meeting. Then he suggested that we play a game. "A game?? now!!! .... Hello, I have work to do!". Well I didn't tell him that :-) As the words went through the various filters it came out as, "ok so lets play the game". BTW what is the game. He then suggested that we each come up with 2 words. I was appointed as the scribe as I was closest to the board. We didn't know what the game was yet but we presumed that we would have to do something with those words. "What does the captain have up his sleeve?". Our brains were put on high alert. Then one by one the words found their way from the deep crevices of our brain to the board. Converted along the way from signals to vibrations then back to signals. My brain was on extra high alert as I crossed checked the spellings before I sent out signals to my hand to scribble something on the board. There were words like 'revolution', 'volunteer', 'mission', 'money', 'celebration', 'man', 'which', 'adhoc', 'time' and then 'Jackie Chan'. 'Jackie Chan' ???

Ok what next. The captain then told us to write a paragraph using those words. "Well thats not too bad. I can do it", I thought to myself as the alert level of my brain came down. We took about 5-10 mins to complete it. Then each one read out what they had written. The four of us started the paragraph using the words 'Jackie Chan', two referring to the film star while the other two used it as just another name. Our paragraphs revolved around the person 'Jackie Chan'. The captain used the word 'Jackie Chan' in a different way.

We were a bit more comfortable after each one finished reading out what he had written. The captain then went on to explain as to why he had just put us through this drill. He told us that his father suffers from Parkinsons disease and the doctor has advised him to do things outside of his 'comfort zone'. His father reads the newspapers a lot but does not do a lot of writing. He shaves with his right hand, now he tries to do it with his left. Doing something out of his comfort zone would help to stimulate his brain and as some researchers have shown may also help in growing new brain cells. It was earlier thought that we cannot grow new brain cells.

He then told us that he was surprised with the words we had come up with cause most of them like 'man', 'which', 'time' and a few others were 2nd-3rd grade or even lower standard vocalubary. We were discussing that some people would try to fit all the words in 1 or 2 sentences. Then I came up with "Revolution, volunteer, mission, money, celebration, man, which, adhoc, time are words from the dictionary. Even Jackie Chan knows that!". HeHeHe... everyone laughed half heartily. That sounded so much better in my head. Anyways... we then decided to come up with two more words each. Our brains then came up with 'Ornithology', 'masochist', some others without any trouble. Someone came up with a name of an unknown German poet. Atleast thats what he told us the person was.

So why did we come up with easy words the first time. Maybe it was the fear of the unknown, the fear of making a fool of ourselves in front of our peers and especially the captain. Maybe we didn't want to move out of our comfort zone. But as the captain later put it, "We need to move out of our comfort zone. We need to constantly challenge ourselves. We need to try out other things which may also be outside the domain of our work. Try something out of the ordinary from our daily routine to stimulate ourselves. We need to push ourselves and face the unknown with discomfort at first. Then slowly make that our comfort zone. Only then can we grow from what we are to what we will become in the future".

Well just a few days back my manager was talking to me about comfort zones and discomfort zones. He actually used the same words, "comfort zone". It seems quite a few people in the company have been playing games :-)

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